Their competition in the spring American football market went belly up before they could even finish their first season. Now Vince McMahon’s second try at launching a league has announced the broadcast schedule for their inaugural season, and they’ve got some impressive television partners lined up - including one McMahon’s other company is already in business with.
XFL games will air on ESPN, ABC, Fox and FS1 in 2020. That includes several primetime Thursday night games on the main Fox network, one night before SmackDown LIVE’s regular time slot on the channel (effective October of this year).
Alpha Entertainment, the company McMahon formed to control the football league, has claimed it is entirely separate from WWE, but it’s clear from the announcement that XFL’s new TV partners don’t really see it that way.
Fox Sports President of National Networks Mark Silverman told Sports Business Daily:
“The league to partner with is the league that has financing. The XFL has a business plan. It is in it for the long haul. We did our diligence. We made sure this entity is in it for the long run. The business plan is in order. We know the key leadership from our WWE deal.”
ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling Burke Magnus said:
“The combination of Vince McMahon, WWE, Fox and Disney is an incredible one to take a really hard run at this and see if that’s not the combination that finally makes it work.”
According to Sports Business Daily’s article, the networks will not pay the XFL a right fee as part of the multi-year deal, but they will pick up the tab for an estimated $400K per game in production costs.
It sounds like a good deal for a league that’s yet to have a game. And while it won’t directly impact WWE’s bottom line, it sounds like that aspect of Vince’s sports entertainment empire helped him land these big partners. That, in turn, may help his core business.
We’ll see. Here’s the XFL’s press release, and their 2020 broadcast schedule:
Stamford, Conn., May 6, 2019 – The XFL today announced multi-year agreements with ESPN and FOX Sports to televise XFL games starting with its inaugural 2020 season. XFL games will air weekly on broadcast TV (ABC and FOX) complemented by games on cable (ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2). The XFL TV schedule allows for consistent appointment viewing each week with back-to-back games starting Saturday afternoons at 2 pm ET as well as two additional games on Sunday afternoons.
“We look forward to showcasing the XFL on ESPN and ABC, including the kickoff game and championship during the league’s inaugural season,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling. “Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck are two of the sports industry’s most creative and experienced leaders, and they have exciting plans for this league. We believe in their vision for the XFL, which will be a great addition to our year-round commitment to football.”
“We welcome the XFL to the FOX Sports Family and are pleased to expand our relationship with Vince McMahon,” said Eric Shanks, FOX Sports CEO & Executive Producer. “Football is in FOX Sports’ DNA and a key component of our programming strategy. Alongside Oliver Luck and his incredible team, we’re excited for the debut of the XFL on FOX Sports.”
“We are thrilled to partner with ESPN and FOX Sports, two innovative media companies with extensive experience in world-class football production that will undoubtedly help us reimagine football,” said Vince McMahon, XFL Founder & Chairman. “The XFL broadcast schedule provides us with incredible reach and makes it easy for fans to watch our games consistently every weekend.”
The agreements were negotiated by CAA Sports and Evolution Media Capital (EMC) on behalf of the XFL.
The XFL will kick off on Saturday, February 8, 2020 with teams in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C. Additional XFL-themed programming and on-air talent will be announced in the future.